ADAMS TOWNSHIP – James Mehelcic is passionate about the land and creatures near his home. He helped to form the guardians of the Kewenaw Ridge last year. The grassroots organization opposes the construction of wind turbines on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Mehelcic is a University of South Florida professor who studies sustainable design. He spoke at an Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition forum last night. During his presentation, Mehelcic said wind power infrastructure does not belong on the Keweenaw ridge line for a number of reasons. Migrating birds being chief among them. He said the Upper Peninsula is a super highway for birds and raptors. He’s also concerned about biodiversity, the kind and number of animal and plant species in the area, which can be harmed by wind energy developments.
“Biodiversity is the buffer at the end of the track, that’ll stop the runaway train of climate change form bursting through. I love Reed Noss, you know maybe I’m showing my age here, but he’s a very famous conservation biologist. i don’t think he’s ever seen a lot of confidence in how humans manage landscape for multiple uses. He says it’s arrogant that we have this human assumption that every environmental problem can be solved with technological solution. And as an engineer, I agree with him, and teach my students, or try to teach my students that.” – James Mehelcic, Secretary Guardians of the Keweenaw Ridge
The National Audubon Society studies migration patterns that show waterfowl and raptors use the Keweenaw as a sort of rest stop after crossing Lake Superior on their flights south. Mehelcic pointed to a number of issues with how wind developers count birds that die as a result of contact with turbines. He said searches are done at poor the wrong times of the year, and the size of the data collection area. The numbers may also be skewed by area predators that take advantage of a free meal.
“Most of the wind turbine developments in the U.S. so far has been in the plains. And now companies are moving into mountain ridges and forested areas. Where there’s a lot more wildlife, especially birds. And it’s known that local mortality rates are substantially higher along migratory routes, such as ridge lines, or the Keweenaw ridge.” – James Mehelcic, Associate Professor, University South of Florida, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mehelcic said the Guardians care deeply for the land and the animals who also call the Keweenaw ridge line home. The group does not want circle power to construct turbines anywhere on the ridge. The group supported a recently passed zoning ordinance in Adams Township. But the zoning does not expressly prohibit wind farms in the township. But they see zoning is a tool for residents to use in order to control how their township uses the land, and that includes a wind farm.